When Captain Tom Wickham decided to join the Army at the age of 17, he did not expect to be in Iraq ten years later on a training mission to support coalition efforts to defeat Daesh and their campaign of terrorism.
"I grew up in Humpty Doo, and my mum still lives there," said the 27-year old Army Officer, who's a proud member of the Royal Australian Engineers.
"It was the perfect place to grow up because there was so much freedom and you learn life skills.
"I remember growing up with lots of kids from different backgrounds.
"It's a very multicultural place, where everyone's accepted."
Today, Captain Wickham is using the skills he developed as a youngster on deployment with Task Group Taji Rotation Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that’s training Iraqi Security Forces just north of Baghdad.
For the next few months until June 2017 he'll be based at the Taji Military Complex, where he'll cross cultures to work closely with Iraqi soldiers to teach them skills such as marksmanship, infantry tactics, explosive hazard awareness and breaching obstacles.
"Today, we're teaching the Iraqis navigation skills," he said.
"The Iraqi trainees are really positive about the training we're offering them.
"Many of them have come back from the fight in Mosul or they're heading up there soon.
"You can see we're making a difference by giving them the training they need."
After joining the Army at 17, Captain Wickham went to the Royal Military College – Duntroon to complete his officer training, before joining the Royal Australian Engineers.
"It's the best Corps," he said with pride.
"Engineers have the most challenging jobs and the most rewarding, from demolitions to building bridges."
"We've got a great team here in Iraq and we're working really well with the Iraqis."
At the end of his deployment, Captain Wickham will return to Darwin and is looking forward to spending time with his partner Anne, who lives there with their three pet greyhounds.
"We own two greyhounds and we've fostered a third," he said.
"They're the best dogs, they sleep on the couch for 23 hours a day and when you take them out for a run they're really fast.
"I'm looking forward to going to the Kimberleys with Anne when I get home - it'll be great to be among the trees and enjoy the dry season."